on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

International Garden Photographer of the Year – Collection Four

Book review

Our first book reviewed here is The International Garden Photographer of the Year, the catalogue to the annual exhibition held at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. The competition which specialises in plant, flower and botanical photography showcases the hugely diverse skills of today's 'garden' photographers and the natural spaces which inspire them. The book, well printed and thoughtfully put together, is a testament to the high standard of this year's entries.

Aside from content, the layout itself is visually very appealing. Adjacent images are nicely juxtaposed and captioned with information about how they were created and the equipment used. I find this a much more reader-friendly solution than similar competition catalogues which seem to list the camera and production details on the final page, as an afterthought.

The double-spread Portfolio pages are also a welcome feature in the book. Interspersed among the individual photographs, they acknowledge extended bodies of work and give context to the photographer's dialogue with his subject. As the competition itself is called 'Garden Photographer' as opposed to 'Garden Photograph of the Year', surely this is how most of the work should be judged. Jason Ingram's Portfolio especially caught my eye, and provides an interesting alternative to the more colour-saturated landscape vistas. The six images, which focus on the hands of vegetable growers clasping their recently picked produce, are rustic in subject and yet delicately captured. Monochrome is used to stunning effect – highlighting the organic textures of both plant and skin.

As a theme, 'Garden' appears to have been widely interpreted. Of course, there is the occasional traditional shot of a well-kept garden 'swathed in evening light', but the majority of photographs are innovative and often unpredictable. The book itself may not be ground-breaking as such, but the talent which the competition showcases make it a worthy purchase. Furthermore it is priced at a reasonable £25 for 150 pages. A welcome addition to any bookshelf.

You  can buy this book at the Beyond Words website.

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